Title:
TRADITIONAL PUTTER WITH ELEVATED MASS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A golf putter head with traditional looks when viewed from above and an elevated center of gravity. The putter head comprises a central lower cavity portion under a weight flange, while the weight flange has been elevated towards the middle of the putter head, with mass relieved portions below the flange and on either side of the central mass relived cavity, with the bottom of the central weight relieved cavity forming the sole, and the upper side of the flange being compressed to maintain a traditional view from above.



Inventors:
Billings, David P. (McKinney, TX, US)
Application Number:
11/548651
Publication Date:
06/14/2007
Filing Date:
10/11/2006
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63B53/00
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
PASSANITI, SEBASTIANO
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
CARR LAW FIRM PLLC (6170 RESEARCH ROAD SUITE 111, FRISCO, TX, 75033, US)
Claims:
1. A putter head comprising: a face; a rearwardly extending flange having an undercut mass relieved central portion and heel and toe portions such that the flange has a generally traditional flange type putter shape when view from above; a central mass relieved cavity below the undercut mass relieved central portion extending from behind the face to an opening facing towards the rear of the putter the central mass relieved cavity having a lower-most portion serving as an abbreviated sole portion behind the face, the central mass relieved cavity having an upper wall forming part of the undercut mass relieved central portions of the flange.

2. The putter head of claim 1, the face having a top-line above the undercut mass relieved central portion.

3. The putter head of claim 1, wherein the central mass relieved cavity is less than ⅓ the length of the putter head from heel to toe.

4. A putter head comprising: a face having a top-line and a sole portion; a centrally undercut rearwardly extending flange; a central lower cavity having a rearwardly facing opening located under a centrally undercut rearwardly extending flange to form an abbreviated sole with further mass relief, the flange further being undercut on its toe and heel portions on either side of the central lower cavity.

5. The putter head of claim 4, wherein the middle of the central lower cavity is located under the flange portion of the putter head, but above the sole portion of the face.

6. A golf putter head comprising: a striking face; a top portion; an abbreviated sole portion; a heel portion and a toe portion; and an elevated rearwardly extending flange having toe and head portions that are relatively heavier as compared to a middle portion of the flange, the flange having essentially the same geometry and features as its traditional host design as viewed by a golfer at address in the top-view, yet positioned above the sole of the putter and below the top-line.

7. The putter head of claim 6, wherein the flange has a lower centrally located cavity portion and an upper centrally located upwardly open cavity, the abbreviated sole portion being comprised of a lower centrally located extremity of the face portion, a lower portion of the lower cavity portion, and an upper cavity portion.

8. The putter head of claim 6, wherein the head comprises a face portion having a top-line, a lower central mass-relieved cavity portion above the sole, a weighted flange portion above the cavity and below the top-line, wherein the center of gravity is above the geographical horizontal center line of the putter head.

9. The putter head of claim 6, wherein the head is milled from metal.

10. The putter head of claim 6, wherein the head is investment cast in metal.

11. The putter head of claim 6, wherein the top-line portion less than 25% of the width of the head.

12. The putter head of claim 7, wherein the sole portion of the lower centrally located cavity portion is less than ⅓rd the length of the putter head from heel to toe.

13. A putter head comprising: a face; a weighted flange having: a lower sole portion having a hollow rearwardly open cavity portion and a top forming the underside of the weighted flange, the cavity having a bottom forming the sole and wherein the upper portion of the flange is raised above the horizontal center line of the head.

Description:

PRIOR APPLICATIONS

This application claims the benefit of priority from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/725,448, filed Oct. 11, 2005, from U.S. patent application Ser. No. 11/467,160, filed Aug. 24, 2006, and from U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 60/792,181, filed Apr. 14, 2006, pending, the contents of which are hereby incorporated by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The invention relates generally to golf clubs and, more particularly, to a putter with a very traditional appearance, especially to the user at address, with an elevated weight-flange, a central mass relieved cavity under the weight flange creating a raised center of gravity (CG) to provide over-spin to a golf ball, thereby improving the roll dynamics of a golf ball upon being struck by the putter.

2. Description of Related Art

In recent years, some attention has been given by golf club manufacturers, designers and engineers towards increasing the roll performance effects created on the golf ball when struck by a putter. Such golf club heads typically increase or move the mass to the upper regions of the putter head, raising the center of gravity and therefore, reducing or eliminating the back-spin on the ball after being struck as compared to prior art putters, thus producing a quicker forward roll of the ball, which is therefore more accurate and more efficient and more consistent in distance control.

Traditional prior art putters, designed when the grasses of the greens at most golf courses were kept longer and thus were slower, used putter heads designed and adapted to those conditions, where the ball would nestle down into the grass due to the longer grass and the ball's own weight. A putter suited for those longer grasses and slower conditions needed more loft and a low center of gravity to launch the ball airborne out of its gravitational depression, while not pinching it against the forward side of the depression. However, the higher launch causes the ball to become airborne and the low CG and lofted face causes the ball to backspin, similar to the launch from a lofted iron or wedge, and thus causes the ball to hop and skid across the surface of the grass before starting its forward roll as dictated by the coefficient of friction between the grass and the lower surface of the golf ball and the forward momentum of the ball.

Spurred by professional tournament play, and other golfers' desires to play under similarly good conditions, greens have trended towards better grasses that can be kept shorter, tighter and faster, while the greens are also typically harder as well. Modern improvements in agronomy and course maintenance equipment and procedures, including the use of improved turf-grasses, fertilizers and improvements in mowers, aeration systems and green substrates has hastened this trend, where more and more of the greens at golf courses around the world are now mown and maintained shorter, tighter, harder and run faster. As the greens' grasses are shorter, tighter and faster, the ball no longer sits down nearly as far in its gravitational depression. Therefore, putters suited for these modern conditions do not need to produce as much elevated launch to produce the most advantageous roll performance for accuracy and consistency. In fact, a ball that is launched too high with the old prior art style putters reduce the accuracy of the roll as the ball backspins, bounces and skids, being deflected on the irregularities of the green surface as it transitions from backspin to a forward roll. Also, the friction applied to the ball as it skids and changes direction of rotation from backspin to forward spin and roll requires a harder stroke to achieve the required roll distance.

Various designs and manufacturing techniques have been attempted to achieve a golf club possessing the above features, i.e., raising the center of gravity to improve the energy transfer from the golf club to the golf ball, create overspin and produce a more consistent, efficient and accurate roll on the green. For example, U.S. Pat. No. 4,693,478 to (“Long”), entitled, “Golf Putter Head,” discloses the use of a larger than standard club head, so the center of gravity is in a higher position than a smaller sized putter head. By using a larger than standard head, however, the head is non-traditional looking, even if the head design is mostly traditional, in its features' relative proportions, just enlarged over traditional sized putter heads. The use of non-traditional looking putters, especially where the alignment features are “out of place” is often difficult and uncomfortable to golfers, especially the most experienced and often the most proficient. This is because the topline and other visual features are now out of place from where the experienced golfer is accustomed to, including those who rely on these cues for alignment, proper set up and swing mechanics, performance and also confidence.

Yet another example of related art is U.S. Pat. No. 6,383,089 to Bonneau (“Bonneau”), entitled, “Inverted Mass Relieved Putter,” discloses inverting the traditional shaped head in such a way as to raise the center of gravity above the centerline. In essence, what was the wide flange at the sole of a traditional shaped putter, is inverted and becomes the top of the Bonneau putter, where the wide flange makes up the crown. Instead of a low center of gravity, the putter head has a high center of gravity. However, this “upside down design” creates a very non-traditional look, where none of the familiar design features and visual cues golfers rely upon for alignment are present, such as a thin top line, cavity framing the ball, etc. which are normal and familiar and comfortable to the experienced golfer. Furthermore, the upside down design moves the center of gravity too high in the head, so that it does not provide a pleasing feel or solid energy transfer upon contact.

Yet another example is U.S. Pat. No. 6,267,689 to Ambrose (“Ambrose”), entitled, “Golf Putter with a High Center of Gravity.” Ambrose discloses a design with most of the weight in the upper half of the putter causing the ball to roll sooner. However, the design is very non-traditional and therefore non-desirable to more experienced golfers with more traditional tastes and needs.

The golfers' needs for familiar features and alignment cues should not be underestimated. Experienced golfers are hesitant to use or even try a very unusual looking putter. Many of the most experienced golfers have grown up using a certain type putter, and this look is incorporated into their pre-shot routine and used to put their minds in the right place and sequence to execute the putt. For these reasons, the most experienced and most adept golfers are usually the most resistant to change the look of their putter. However, use and even endorsement by these most highly skilled golfers is highly sought after by companies with products to sell.

Therefore, there is a need for a golf club head that combines traditional appearance to the golfer at address and in use, with a significantly raised center of gravity to improve the roll performance.

SUMMARY

In accordance with one embodiment of the invention, a putter head is provided comprising: a face; a rearwardly extending flange having an undercut mass relieved central portion and heel and toe portions such that the flange has a generally traditional flange type putter shape when viewed from above; and a central mass relieved cavity below the undercut mass relieved central portion extending from behind the face to an opening facing towards the rear of the putter the central mass relieved cavity having a lower-most portion serving as an abbreviated sole portion behind the face, the central mass relieved cavity having an upper wall forming part of the undercut mass relieved central portions of the flange.

Accordingly, the present invention provides a putter head that appears traditional in every respect to the golfer at address and in use, with an elevated center of gravity producing overspin and a more efficient, accurate and consistent roll of the golf ball. Accordingly, the design incorporates traditional lines and visual features when looked at from directly above, at address, and in use, since the golfer is looking down at the head from above when using the putter, except these lines and features have been compressed and raised nearer the top of the club without significantly altering their shape and geometry, especially when viewed from above. Importantly, the height of the top-line is kept at the same height as a traditional putter's design, as this is most often used by a golfer to gauge the proper height and path of the putter during the stroke. The top of the flange portion carrying most of the weight is raised from the sole to near the middle of the head. In one embodiment, a hollow box is provided under the flange as a place to sole the putter, without adding back significant weight in this region. The sole of the hollow box cavity allows the putter head to be soled on the ground evenly at address, and also for golfers to tamp down spike marks, ball marks and the like when and as permitted by the Rules of Golf.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

For a more complete understanding of the present invention, and the advantages thereof, reference is now made to the following description taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a putter head from the top-view, or “at address,” that embodies the present invention;

FIG. 2 illustrates a typical flange type or blade type prior art putter head from the top-view, or “at address,” considered to be traditional, familiar and attractive in appearance to experienced golfers;

FIG. 3 illustrates a typical prior art putter head from the off-axis front, or “¾ view”;

FIG. 4 illustrates a putter head of an embodiment of the invention from the off-axis front view, or “¾ view,”;

FIG. 5 is a typical flange type or blade type prior art putter with a low center of gravity, and the bottom of the flange making up the sole of the putter;

FIG. 6 illustrates a prior art putter from the back and toe, showing the center of gravity with respect to a ball.

FIG. 7 illustrates a putter head in accordance with an embodiment of the invention from the back and toe, showing the center of gravity with respect to a ball; and

FIG. 8A-E illustrate several views of a putter head having a 2.5-degree loft designed in accordance with one embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Referring to FIGS. 1, 4, 7 and 8 of the drawings, the reference numeral 100 generally designates a putter head embodying features of the present invention. The putter head 100 generally comprises a face portion 110, the cavity box sole 112 and elevated flange portion 117, a top-line portion 114, and a hosel or “gooseneck” portion 111 with an opening 116.

The golf club head 100 is shown in a finished state such that the top-line portion 114 includes an optional alignment mark 120 and the face portion 110 includes optional milled grooves and/or punch marks or other surface treatment as permitted by the USGA and R&A Rules. Preferably, the golf club head 100 in a finished state has been sanded, painted and/or plated and polished as desired.

In one embodiment a metal billet is CNC machined, bead blasted, nickel plated, finished, polished, painted in the engraved areas, assembled with a modular hosel 111, a shaft 131 and a grip (not shown). In one embodiment, the stock billet material comprises 1.5-inch square bar stock of a 12L14 carbon steel. This carbon steel is preferred because of its higher lead content which allows it to be milled with very clean and precise lines, longer tool life and also because it offers a very soft yet solid feel when struck with a golf ball in the finished club. Other metals, such as 1018 Carbon Steel, 303 stainless steel, brass, bronze, copper and other metals and metal alloys, however, may be used to achieve the desired shapes and performance effects.

FIGS. 2, 3, 5 and 6 illustrate a prior art golf putter head 200 where the flange 217 makes up the entire lower sole of the putter. The putter head 200 generally comprises a face portion 210, a weight flange portion 217, an upper cavity portion 223, a top-line portion 214, and a hosel portion 211 with an opening 216. The prior art putter head 200 can also have an alignment mark 220. Because the flange 217 has substantial weight, and makes up the entire lower sole of the putter, the putter 200 has a relatively low center of gravity. As can be seen by comparison of FIG. 1 to FIG. 2, for example, the putter head 100 in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention has a similar “look” at address to the prior art putter head 200, notwithstanding that the putter head 100 has a substantially higher center of gravity.

FIG. 7 depicts a ball 140 is depicted relative to the putter head 100 at normal address. Dotted horizontal line 142 shows the height of the center of ball 140, dotted horizontal line 144 shows the height of the abbreviated sole 119 of the putter head 100, dotted horizontal line 146 shows the approximate horizontal position of the green, and dotted horizontal line 148 shows the height of center of gravity 150 of putter head 100. For comparison, FIG. 6 depicts a ball 240 is depicted relative to the putter head 200 at normal address. Dotted horizontal line 242 shows the height of the center of ball 240, dotted horizontal line 244 shows the height of the sole 219 of the putter head 200, dotted horizontal line 246 shows the approximate horizontal position of the green, and dotted horizontal line 248 shows the height of center of gravity 250 of putter head 200. As can be seen by comparison of FIG. 6 with FIG. 7, the center of gravity of putter head 100 is higher than the center of gravity of putter head 200, when the flange and corresponding connecting heel and toe weight pads are elevated to a region closer to the top half of the putter head, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIGS. 8A to 8E illustrate top, heel, back, toe, and face views, respectively, of an example of a golf putter head, namely a cavity backed heel-toe weighted flange type or blade type design, with 2.5 degrees of positive loft, manufactured according to the processes described above, for illustrative purposes only and not so as to limit the present invention in any manner.

Accordingly, the traditional design host putter type may be selected among any design thought by golfers to be traditional and as desired by the golf club designer to obtain the desired weighting characteristics without departing from the spirit of the present invention. The style of the head, whether it be a flange blade, flange cavity backed blade, flange mallet or any previous style where the center of gravity was relatively low in the head, can be altered, improved and made suitable for today's faster greens, without altering substantially its essential “look” at address, by applying the concepts of the present invention.

As depicted, the putter head 100 has a face portion 110, a mass-relieved cavity sole portion 119, and an elevated flange portion 117 and compressed upper cavity portion 123, manufactured in accordance with the present invention. In one embodiment, the face portion 110 has a height of approximately 1.00″, a length from heel to toe of approximately 4.5″ and a width from face to back of approx. 1.125″. As specified, the total weight of the putter head is approximately 310 grams without the hosel. Preferably, the milling process described above allows for a traditional looking and feeling putter to be produced. Various other weighted heads, by thickening or thinning various portions may produce different weight putters for different golfers' tastes, or for shorter or longer length putters as desired. Alternatively, additional denser weighting material, such as tungsten, and the like, may be added as is known in the art to further modify the weight, moment of inertia, center-of-gravity and or center of percussion location as desired.

The hosel 111 can be modular and made separately from the putter head 100 and attached to it. The hosel assembly 111 having any desirable hosel geometry, or well-known shape such as plumber style, s-bend, long with large offset or small or no hosel at all, using a single or double bend shaft in its place. The modular hosel 111 allows for a single head style to be coupled with varying hosels for different shaft alignment configurations in the final product to suit different tastes and needs for specifications such as offset, face or toe balancing, in differing degrees, differing lie angles all with the same basic head module. Alternatively, differing hosels 111 may be obtained by milling, forging or casting them as one piece with the head 100, including the use of center shafted designs, with or without a hosel 111.

As discussed above, the hosel 111 can be formed by a similar, CNC milling method as described above, or some other suitable method, such as investment casting, forging, stamping, and/or the like. Furthermore, the metal or metal alloy or other material used to create the hosel 111 may be a different composition than that used for the head 100. For example, in the preferred embodiment, the hosel 111 is machined from a 6061 Aerospace grade aluminum alloy with a density is approximately 0.098 pounds per cubic inch while the bottom putter head portion 100 comprises a 12L14 carbon steel with a density of 0.290 pounds per cubic inch. Additionally, the hosel 111 is preferably plated with an electroless Nickel plating, as is the carbon steel head portion, to reduce corrosion and oxidation of the alloy and mild steel surfaces and to provide a homogenous look, to further enhance the traditional looks and appeal of the putter.

The metal billet i.e., the head portion 100 (FIG. 1), can then have hosel portion 111 epoxied into attachment hole 121. The assembled putter head 100, with hosel 111, can then be assembled to a shaft 131 and grip (not shown).

As will be appreciated by one skilled in the art, the location of the top line portion 114 may differ between the head designs. By compressing the upper-most features vertically, and moving the flange up from its traditional sole position as illustrated, the center of gravity is moved upwards from the sole portion and towards the top of the putter head. Altering the center of gravity in this manner provides an immediate overspin being placed on the golf ball when struck with the club in its intended manner, that is when swung normally by the golfer.

It is understood that the present invention can take many forms and embodiments. Accordingly, several variations may be made in the foregoing without departing from the spirit or the scope of the invention. For example, the traditional design may consist of other kinds of head styles of putters, such as flange blades with no cavities, heel shafted flange blades, mallets with and without cavities, putters with or without hosels, center shafted putters, mid-length or belly putters, long putters, and the like.

Having thus described the present invention by reference to certain of its preferred embodiments, it is noted that the embodiments disclosed are illustrative rather than limiting in nature and that a wide range of variations, modifications, changes, and substitutions are contemplated in the foregoing disclosure and, in some instances, some features of the present invention may be employed without a corresponding use of the other features. Many such variations and modifications may be considered obvious and desirable by those skilled in the art based upon a review of the foregoing description of preferred embodiments. Accordingly, it is appropriate that the appended claims be construed broadly and in a manner consistent with the scope of the invention.





 
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